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who said he was an Eastern representative of publicity work, came to me and stated that he had tried syndicating newspaper reports like we had an encouraging trial of in this state, and that it could not be done. As a lad in common school, my teacher told me that if I ever hoped to accomplish anything worth the while in after life, that I simply must cut the word "can't” out of my vocabulary. If I have accomplished anything worthy of mention since, it is because to that extent I obeyed his advice. This world has no place nor use for the men of an “I can't" tribe. Rather would that same teacher of the early years, if on duty today, say to me, Take for your motto that of Chicago, destined to be the largest city in the world, “I will.”
At that same Milwaukee meeting suggestions were asked for which would aid state examiners in their duties. I could not resist referring to the address I gave at one of our state meetings on “Uniformity of Books and Bookkeeping," bringing out the point as forcibly as I knew how to that such uniformity was not only practical and possible, but should be in force nationally, failure in not having it so costing the associations unnecessarily thousands of dollars per year, as the irregularity of systems greatly increased the time of an examiner where each was a law unto himself in methods of bookkeeping. Not only this, but the element of security is seriously imperiled because of the vagaries in systems. Out of your own experiences you know how true this is, you who have had to change from an experienced secretary to a new incumbent who had to take up his duties with little practical knowledge of association accounting, and this particular kind especially. Directors and stockholders were for some time very uncertain in what shape the association affairs might be. Oh, I am reading my own confession in at this juncture, counting on the effect striking home the stronger. With a uniform system rules of instruction could be printed and put in use by the novice at the books. More, the personal help of a neighbor secretary could be engaged for a time, or, in extremes, a state official secured, making the new engagement satisfying, safe and encouraging.
Hardly had I yielded the floor, when up jumped an individual, who said that uniformity was entirely out of the question. He was strictly another of the great "I can't" fraternity. No sooner had he sat down than a delegate from California arose with evident eagerness, and in sincerity that could not fail to impress all who heard him, made the direct statement that uniformity was possible, that it was, in fact, the California way and with excellent effect. Maybe I was not on the jubilant list just about then. This reminds me of the story of the lawyer, who told his client that the party against whom he wished suit brought could not do thus and so. "But,” retorted the client, "he has done so."
You may be thinking, if not saying under your breath by this time, "Well, what has all this to do with the work of the Publicity Committee?" Simply this: publicity means making public. Every branch of the work of our associations that something worth while can be said of is of concern to us and you. In truth, the Publicity Committee is a freelance.
Let me quote right here, as most pertinent to the topic under discussion, what Mr. Rosenthal had to say of publicity in his plea for the organization of a special national bureau:
“This is the age of publicity. We cannot expect to cope with other financial institutions unless we organize and systematically use all means of exploitation and advertising which modern business science has placed at our command, unless we make an advance step and immediately organize an advertising department in connection with the bureau.
“We have many single financial institutions in the United States which expend for their advertising sums aggregating from $50,000 to $250,000 per year. But the building associations individually do very little of this, and as an institution no organized effort in this direction has yet been made. It would be the business of this department to furnish the daily, weekly and monthly press with articles that will properly advance the co-operative savings and home building movement."
No financial institution doing business of as vast importance as ours can hope to escape antagonism, have its right to existence even called into question. That means, if we are to advance or even hold our own, protection, state and national, is imperative. When you have no standing to guard, no guard is needed.
On the suggestion of Mr. Frank Brown, of our committee, the following pertinent questions were mailed throughout the state to associations, replies to which it was honestly hoped would prove a valued aid to the conduct of our committee:
“What is the best way of promoting building and loan interests throughout the state? How to promote the same in each community ? What has been your experience with different methods of advertising, in newspapers, by circulars, cards, or otherwise?"
Then, on a card to be filled out, these questions were asked:
"Is your association a member of the Building Association League of Illinois? If not, why not? Will it be represented by a delegate at the annual meeting in Springfield, October 23d and 24th? If not, why not?"
Through answers that came the committee will find much to direct attention to and take action on the coming year. If time permitted, the reading of some of them would prove educational and interesting. It is the purpose to compile from the returns extracts of the most valuable nature, print them and mail copies to state members. They represent the ideas of officers who are on duty and cannot fail to be much of a help to our state work.
As the opinion of our committee, a report of this meeting's transactions, so written as to be readable to the average citizen, would, if published in newspapers of the state, where there are building associations especially, prove a splendid source of publicity. The secretary expects to prepare such a report and send it to secretaries throughout the state, whom it is hoped will make
an honest effort to secure publication of at least part if not all of it. If the publisher does not care to or will not give such publication free of cost to the local association, after being asked to do so, then have the report read at some public gathering of a proper nature, inviting remarks at the close from prominent citizens present likely to be in sympathy with our cause, calling attention to the vital fact that it is intended to bring about home building and home owning in your city. The report will thus have served the excellent purpose for which it is designed.
From the answers received from secretaries in the state to the questions sent them it is apparent that no one thing would conduce more to increased, healthy growth of the associations than the establishment of a clearing house for surplus money. One association has more money paid in on dues and for stock otherwise than it can loan out; another has an excess of loans. Just why our State League has not taken this matter up and followed it to a successful finish probably no one can reasonably explain. To delay longer doing so would certainly be a mistake.
Indiana has had for some time a clearing house for her state loan and building associations. Regarding the situation there, a quotation is taken in part from the report of the Indiana Building and Loan Association Department of the state for the year ending 1912, a copy of which was sent to the secretary of our committee:
"Borrowing associations pay six per cent per annum, payable semi-annually. Such loans are practically a preferred claim on the assets of the borrowing association, for the reason that nothing could be distributed among the members in case of liquidation until the borrowed money has been repaid, and, with the additional safeguards of state supervision and examination, there is no possibility of a loss to any association making such loans.
"Tens of thousands of dollars have been loaned through this department during the last year from associations in one part of the state to those of another along the lines above indicated."
The opinion is formed from the limited account in the report that both borrowing and loaning associations transact their deals with the state auditor's office as a clearing house.
Three things would be of decided benefit to our associations if they could be inaugurated the coming year, and the Publicity Committee would have that much at least; it would take pride in making public, namely:
A state advertising bureau, to which any secretary could apply for advice on how to do effective advertising, stating local conditions.
Uniformity of books and bookkeeping, with a central supply house from which to obtain the necessary books and blanks.
A clearing house under state authority.
These suggestions are offered in the hope that some definite, favorable action will be taken on them at this meeting.
The Polish Building and Loan Associations.
BY ALBERT WACHOWSKI, OF CHICAGO, ILL. From the organization of the first Polish building and loan association in Chicago, in 1881, until the present time, the Polish building and loan associations have ever been the principal element and backbone in the splendid financial development and acquirement of homes among the Polish people.
The Polish people, from time immemorial, have been recognized as able farmers, and the bulk of the Polish immigration to this country has always consisted of people who have been born and reared in agricultural life.
On coming to this country of industrial activity, they have had to adapt themselves to the conditions and environments of our great cities. They quickly comprehended the necessity of land ownership, knowing from past experience that land ownership itself meant freedom. The man without his own land and home has always been a serf, a slave. History records the fact that the people of a country can be prosperous only in a country where the land is divided among the many; where each individual is his own master; where, in case of danger, he has something of his own, something dear and worth while for him to defend. A country in which all the land is owned by a few is a land of misery, poverty and slavery for the many.
And, true to the American motto, that "The American home is the safeguard of American liberties," the Polish people rapidly organized building and loan associations, and, with their help, started on a rapid and successful march for home ownership and possession. So rapid was their progress in organizing these asso ciations that, within twenty-five years, their building and loan associations have increased to such an extent that their assets now amount to $5,121,745.20.
Not only in this country, but also in Europe, do the Póles rely for their financial strength on building and loan associations. There, across the ocean, in the land unjustly taken from them by other nations, the Poles, in order to withstand the unjust policy of their oppressors in appropriating to themselves the lands that rightfully belonged to the Polish people, have organized building and loan associations under the name of "the people's banks,” from which not only each individual reaps his just benefits from his investments, but also they are the mutual financial and moral reservoirs of strength which have successfully withstood the attacks of oppressive governments.
According to the last report from the Province of Posen, in German Poland, these "people's banks' have a membership of 141,401 in that province alone, with assets amounting to $87,733,378.
It seems to me that the reason why our Polish building and loan associations in Europe are the backbone and strength of the Polish people in their vigorous defense of a righteous cause is, that
there is in these associations that which cannot be found in any other financial institution, namely, that very close personal relationship between its members, and a personal interest taken by each member in the work of his association.
The work of a building and loan association is more on the line of a social organization. Perhaps it is the fact that the members know personally their own officials which they have chosen in their elections that gives them so much confidence in a building and loan association, and makes it their own and well understood institution. I say "well understood institution," for truly more people understand the workings and ways of a building and loan association than that of any other financial institution.
Whenever one thinks that he is a part of something, and that upon his actions depends its welfare, he surely will put forth his best efforts to secure for it its best development and success.
So with a member of a building and loan association. He feels that he is part of it; he talks about it to his friends and acquaintances with that enthusiasm which is inspired by confidence in its stability, for he knows that every dollar of its assets is invested in first mortgages, and that these mortgages are being paid off in monthly installments.
For this reason the building and loan associations need not spend large sums in advertising. Most of them never spent a cent for that purpose. Their medium of advertising is carried on through their members. Each member who has bought property through them tells his friend of the small weekly or monthly payments he is making and shows him that if he borrows from an association the money with which to buy a home that the little monthly loan repayments and interest amount only to what he would pay for rent, and that he is making these payments on account of the purchase of his home, and he finally induces him to become a member and do the same.
The good, beneficial and honest conduct of a building and loan association stands for its best advertising and brings more results than paid advertising would bring.
In the Polish building and loan associations most of the advertising is carried on by its members. Of late the Polish League of Building and Loan Associations of Chicago has given the building and loan association cause a great aid. Its work has gained widespread attention from the large Polish population in the city of Chicago.
It chiefly aims to secure members to the Polish League, thereby securing them for the State League, as every member of the Polish League must, by its constitution, become a member of the State League.
The Polish League of Chicago esteems and appreciates the work of the Illinois State League, and also acknowledges the excellent and arduous labors of the "American Building Association News," the wide-awake and very ably edited official organ of the United States League.